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Preventing & Avoiding Plagiarism: Avoiding Plagiarism

How to Avoid Plagiarism

Writing a research paper is creating new scholarship through the process of researching, interpreting and synthesizing existing scholarship. During the process, you will read copious amounts of information, take notes, write an outline, create a bibliography (sometimes annotated), and finally write and revise your paper. This is a lengthy and time-consuming process which might cause you to make the following ill-considered choices:

  Cutting and pasting information from a source into your paper [cheating, stealing, plagiarism];

  Waiting until the last minute to write your paper causing you to borrow or purchase someone else's paper [poor time management, cheating];

  Using a paper you wrote for another class [academic dishonesty];

  Improperly citing a source, or not citing a source at all [plagiarism].

Strategies to help you research with integrity

Understand your research assignment and plan accordingly. 

Cite everything that isn't "common knowledge,"which is best defined as a fact known by the general public. A good example of common knowledge would be that George Washington was the first President of the United States.

Learn proper citation format. See our citing your sources guide for more information. 

Obtain a RefWorks account. RefWorks is an online citation manager which will magically streamline the citation process. Contact the Library Reference Department or call (254-3375) for assistance.

Learn to use reliable, authoritative and scholarly resources. 

Make an appointment for a research consultation with a librarian. We're here to help with library and research anxiety.

Learn to be an excellent note taker. For each of your sources, keep written documentation, including all citation information, all quotes you might refer to, notes on the source, etc. RefWorks can help with this process.

Understand when to use quotes and how to paraphrase. The top two boxes on the right link to some excellent sources that will help you understand how to engage in good scholarship, while avoiding unintentional plagiarism:


Remember, you are now a member of a community of scholars! Find your own research voice and use it with integrity.